Not a big deal, but something I liked.
Here is another example of reddit, as a community, taking an idea and adding value. Like the Ukraine unrest, which I talked about in my last post, this is also about violence, but this time from 1945.
Whereas much of this could have been done without a web community to organise it I very much doubt it would have happened, and more pertinently (for me at least) I am sure it would not have come to my attention.
Aside from the actions of the reddit historyporn sub which made these edits (impressive), which I think really elevates the way this story is presented, these photos are also simply a reminder of war and its mundane brutality. The transformation from 1945 to 2013 is chilling.
Oberdorla, Germany, 1945: American soldiers come under sniper fire having lost one soldier.
The image of Oberdorla today was provided by the reddit user u/Mugros who as a result of seeing the original photo being posted went there and took a bunch of photos which were then hosted on imgur and also posted in the reddit thread.
u/siliconbunny adds a lot more detail and related links here.
Finally Google maps 360 panorama from the same spot.
This is one of the most captivating films I’ve watched in a while. There are no special effects here, or more accurately, what you are seeing was captured ‘live’ by the cameras not added in afterwards in the editing suite. The effects are created by projection onto the moving boards. Just brilliant.
Then we have this, computers watching movies. This film is a representation of how a computer visually digests the “carrier bag in the wind” scene from American Beauty. The audio from the movie is over-layed allowing you to consider the difference between your perceptions and the computers. Oddly engaging. This is from a series of 6 movie scenes. This was the one I thought was most able to instigate feelings of a cognitive presence although the others are also worth a look.
Finally this wonderful film used over 2000 PVC cutouts and reminds me of Vonnegut’s Tralfamadorians.
Stratfor is the global intelligence consultancy that came to public prominence in 2011 when they were hacked by anonymous.
I didn’t pay them much mind beyond those news reports until recently, when I stumbled across a video called “The United Kingdom’s Geographic Challenge” via r/GeoPolitics on reddit. It’s only 2 minutes long and after watching it I was strikingly unimpressed, largely because it was made by Stratfor, and I therefore expected something pretty big in terms of insight, and which I felt was lacking. I scanned the reddit thread and found folks similarly unimpressed. I then read the Youtube comments, which I don’t often do. There was only one substantial exchange, between someone called Random Videos (RV) and someone called Zarrov. RV was unimpressed, Zarrov somewhat bluntly explained that RV was missing the context…
Thats why I said that I dismissed your comment. It would take too much time to explain basics. You just don’t understand strategy. You think in superficial, layman terms, thats “ability to amass invasion” means “omg, agression, they WANT to attack us”. Not so. The very existence of power warps relations with others. The most obvious mistake you make is to assume that history happens because of random events, and that it does not repeat itself. You do not ask yourself question why all states, despite changing times, regimes, technology, societies and leaders behaved in patterns. To think, that “well, today we are safe” and proejct (sic) that into the future is very basic mistake. — Zarrov
It takes something for an article about HR policies to be interesting, but that’s what this article about Netflix’s HR policy is. Very interesting. Over the years I’ve heard pretty much all the cliches that are generally foisted onto employees by management teams. The one that has always provoked mirth, occasionally despair, across the workforce is the one that claims to pay market rate, “we want the best people, so we pay the best wages”. I’ve worked for market leading companies, and companies circling the drain. In both types of company we knew that some people were paid market rate, and we knew that some people weren’t. I even know that one colleague of mine, when presenting the new job offer he had received, which was about 30-40% larger than his current salary, to his employer, was told that they didn’t believe that his new salary offer was an accurate representation of his market rate! No word of a lie. Anyway. Netflix. There is much in here that is innovative and brave, and logical, although in some respects it could be seen as slightly brutal also, but only slightly. There is a lot of detail and substantiation that is worth reading but there are highlights. First the observation that the best thing you can do to keep employees happy is to only hire the best co-workers, which necessitates what can often be a fairly emotionless approach to letting people go. And secondly, that when you do let people go, they get a generous severance package. Quite brilliant really although clearly not for everyone.
This link is another example of an exceptional use of digital media by a modern news organisation. There aren’t that many of these things around and I try to highlight them when I find them. By and large this kind of approach, it’s more investigative journalism than ‘news at 9’ , isn’t that commonplace. I suspect that the economics are somewhat challenging but hope that we are starting to see these new approaches getting some grip. Regardless this is a really good deep dive into the phenomena of mass killings in America since 2006. Its not a wall of text, but instead a mixture of data, story telling, graphics and intuitive use of browser mechanics. The topic at hand is grim, but the journalism impressive.
I wrote a short post about a week ago, which at its heart claimed that in general, business did not use the internet to see what real people were doing, and what real people wanted, as expressed by those people in natural and non prompted environments. I was mostly writing from the angle of the communications and marketing industry (I have always hated focus groups even though they do have their uses) but was aware that it applied to different business spheres also. This article is about the Amazon whisperers, a New Jersey company that scours Amazon reviews, and other web locations, to find products that are missing certain features. They know they are missing those features because the reviews say so. The next step is to commission a company, often in China, to make the product, but fully replete with the features that are wanted. Obvious, yes once you hear about it, clever, yes for sure, but commonplace, no.
Something that has been missing from the regular coverage of the agreement between America and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program and the US sanctions is the wider effect this deal has had on other regional players. It is widely reported, of course, that Israel is very unhappy as their position on Iran and nuclear proliferation has been a driving force behind much of American policy in the region for many years now. Just as formative, but much less reported is the role played by Saudi Arabia, both in terms of their relationship to America, and also their fear of Iran’s nuclear program. This article explores those issues, starting with the somewhat bleak assertion that the US/Iran deal may lead to the nuclearisation of the Saudis. I don’t buy that as an inevitable conclusion but its a good place to start.
This next piece is quite long, but again worth a read. it’s yet another take on privacy and the NSA, this time from the hacker/maker community. It’s a good examination, whether you are in agreement or not. I particularly like the observations about misrepresentation as a path to privacy. Its a job that requires some technical sophistication and dedication so I can’t see it being a widespread approach, but interesting nonetheless. This passage in particular stood out for me.
If data kills both privacy as impossible-to-observe and privacy as impossible-to-identify, then what might be an alternative? If you are an optimist or an apparatchik, then your answer will tend toward rules of procedure administered by a government you trust or control. If you are a pessimist or a hacker/maker, then your answer will tend towards the operational, and your definition of a state of privacy will be mine: the effective capacity to misrepresent yourself.